Bridging The Divide: Being Trans & Muslim after Orlando


Our communities were rocked once more by tragedy, in the form of the Orlando mass shooting which occurred at the beginning of National LGBTQ Pride Month. In the wake of that senseless attack, the shooter’s name was revealed -- and our country’s blatant Islamophobia was laid bare once more, as a Muslim name was read over our broadcasts.

Featured in this video and article written for Time Magazine Online by Diane Tsai is Izzaddine Mustafa, a 24 year old Palestinian trans man from Brooklyn, NY, who was attending the vigil held for the victims at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City.  He opens the video with his initial feelings on reading the news:

The first thing I saw was the name of the shooter. And when I read that name it was scary because my name is very similar sounding.  I have a Muslim name and I’m a Muslim man.  People are gonna blame me for what happened yesterday, but at the same time give me condolences as a queer person.

This is an important month for Muslims around the world -- the celebration of Ramadan began on June 5, which signals a time of fasting, prayer, and kindness to others. The article states:

It’s a complicated—and busy—time for queer Muslims, who are in the midst of both Ramadan celebrations and Pride month preparations. Now, they are also mourning the deaths of members of the LGBT community, at a time when the circumstances are bringing an unanticipated spotlight to their identities and activism.

Mustafa is a member of the Muslim Alliance for Gender and Sexual Diversity (MASGD), an organization that “works to support, connect, and empower LGBTQ Muslims”. Tsai quotes Mustafa on his role in activism:

“I do feel like I have an obligation, as somebody who has the privilege of being out and being fully supported, to speak,” he said. “Not for the queer Muslim community—because we all have very different experiences and backgrounds—but to speak to my experience.”

At 1:08 in the video, Mustafa describes his view of the intersectionality of the struggles in being queer, trans, and Muslim in America:

I believe that all of the struggles are connected.  Homophobia and transphobia to me is very much connected to Islamophobia because of the violence that is perpetrated by the state.  I think it’s important that as Americans, we don’t distance this event as an isolated event of a Muslim person versus the West or a Muslim person against us.  This person was fueled by the homophobia and transphobia of this country. This is an American who watches mainstream media and everyday sees politicians talking about how gay and trans people shouldn’t use the same restrooms as others.

Mustafa closes the video and article with simple words, born of his own experience and desire to live and be recognized for his identities, as he echoes the sentiments of other queer Muslims:

I made the personal choice to come out, and come out fully to both communities, because I think It’s important that we show that we are here and we exist and we are here to bridge that divide.

Read the article What It’s Like to be a Transgender Muslim After the Orlando Shooting.

Watch the video below.

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